Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan picked up the torch of the franchise and boldly took the series where it had never gone before. After the ponderous pacing of the first film, this one kicked in the turbo.
Chekov (now a Commander) and his Captain are searching for a completely dead planet for the Genesis Project, a scientific experiment designed to create life from lifelessness. Instead, they find the planet where Captain Kirk had marooned the superhuman Khan Noonien Singh fifteen years prior, and are captured by Khan and his remaining followers. Khan is intent on getting revenge on Kirk.
The story, plotting, and pacing for Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan are right on the entire time. Taking one of the best antagonists from the TV series and bringing the story fill circle was an excellent choice, and it worked. From various things I have watched and read, Nicholas Meyer is not only a great director, but was able to rewrite the entire script from the first draft to the final within just a few days. I have never heard of anyone doing that before, and the end result was one of the best films ever made.
Ricardo Montalban brought a gravity to the screen which was lacking in the first film. When he was on the screen, all eyes were drawn to him. Even the simple act of taking off his protective headgear when he is first introduced was interesting. He embodied the charismatic leader with a dark side that was Khan. Rarely has any villain in a film or on television achieved such iconic status as Khan.
The special effects had a much smaller budget than the first film, and it shows just a little. In fact, Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan was made for less than one-quarter the budget of Star Trek The Motion Picture. Perhaps the smaller budget encouraged everyone to give it that little bit extra that pushed this film from merely mediocre into something truly memorable.
James Horner‘s music was a true highlight of the film. Every moment touched by his music was significantly enhanced. The chase scenes, the individual character themes, the new main theme; everything was polished and brightened by the music. This soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time.
If you haven’t seen Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, it is time to crawl out from under that rock and take the time to experience it. It has excellence on all levels, and is regularly held up as one of the crown jewels in the Star Trek universe. This is still one of my favorite Star Trek films, and one of my overall favorite films in general. I can’t recommend this enough.
Release Date: June 4, 1982 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some brief social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional, minor)
Violence: 2 (some gore, torture, space battles, death)